The significance of Belinsky and his influence on Russian literature can hardly be overestimated. He did not only show the way for literature to become a public force, but also turned to be a teacher and a leader for the young generation of writers.
Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky was born on June 11 [O.S. May 30] 1811 in Sveaborg (nowadays Suomenlinna, Finland) into the family of a naval doctor.
Vissarion spent his childhood in Penza. In 1829-1832 he studied at the Philology Faculty of the Moscow University. His youthful ideals brought him to a philosophical circle, among the members of which there were most gifted students, who later became very influential figures of Russian literature and public life. In this circle Belinsky found his friends, who sympathized with him and shared his aspirations. They were Alexander Herzen, Nikolay Ogarev, and many others.
The evolution of Belinsky’s views was accompanied with the strengthening of his critical attitude to philosophical idealism, and religious beliefs of his youth gave way to obviously atheistic frame of mind.
In 1845 Belinsky wrote to Alexander Herzen: “in the words God and religion I see darkness, gloom, chains and whips”. Such attitude of Belinsky was quite symptomatic: the ideology of political radicalism started to dominate in the Russian westernism. Belinsky's works are also impregnated with this ideology.
Apart from his literary reviews, Belinsky wrote remarkable articles about Gavrila Derzhavin, Mikhail Lermontov, Valerian Maykov, Alexaner Polezhaev, Alexander Bestuzhev, Alexander Pushkin and others, as well as about the Russian folk poetry, tackling upon the entire history of Russian literature, from Mikhail Lomonosov toAlexander Pushkin.
Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky died of consumption on June 7 [O.S. May 26] 1848 in St. Petersburg.